3 Guidelines for Developing a Privacy Program That Protects and Empowers Your Business

Since the GDPR and CCPA, countless new privacy regulations are either in the works or have recently been enacted — and businesses are scrambling to keep up. Without strong, proactive privacy programs, that scramble will intensify. But with them, companies can withstand any new privacy law thrown their way.

Every industry has seen explosive data-driven advancements, so a push to protect that data was inevitable. However, businesses have conflicting priorities. The quest for product innovation and advancement often competes with the demands of a comprehensive and holistic privacy program. So most privacy orgs struggle to balance building a robust privacy program that satisfies regulatory data protection requirements, while still meeting the voracious demands of the rest of the business. 

And that means they’re vulnerable.

The Need for the Right Approach to Compliance

Today, almost all digitally enabled products — from smartphones to thermostats to social networks — are built to leverage data in some way. As a result, data privacy in all stages of the product development process is critical. Why? It’s the only way organizations can be proactive (rather than reactive) to privacy. Constantly changing regulations and increasing consumer sensitivity to privacy make it more important than ever to suss out privacy risks in new products from the start and continue to do so every step of the way.

If companies don’t do this, they risk wasting countless hours and dollars researching, designing, and developing products that don’t meet regulatory guidelines. And it goes beyond that. They also face potential fines, investigations, loss of customer trust and goodwill, and high costs required to redesign the flawed product (which takes resources away from other projects, too).

To avoid these pitfalls, organizations must recognize that privacy compliance isn’t a static objective — and then do everything they can to approach privacy proactively.

Building a Privacy Program the Right Way

A modern privacy program that continually identifies how products collect, store, share, and retain data is the only way organizations can be agile and responsive to privacy challenges and changes. And contrary to popular belief, this won’t hinder business or product development in any way. When done right, a strong privacy program is a value-add in every sense.

The following are three critical components of any successful modern privacy program:

1. Know your privacy risks — and know they will vary.

A thorough privacy risk assessment is critical to understanding your compliance obligations. There are dozens of factors that will determine your company’s risk exposure. A product built for children, for instance, might be subject to more stringent regulations than one built for adults. Similarly, a product that collects health data or financial records will pose greater risks than one that simply collects customers’ birth dates. Each data point poses a unique risk and must be considered when developing safe, innovative products and strong privacy practices.

2. Make privacy an organizational imperative.

Companies that hope to remain compliant must incorporate privacy into every aspect of their business. A good privacy program extends beyond product development and includes guidelines and best practices for employees in every department. Marketers and sales representatives must be able to describe products in a way that helps customers understand how their data is used. Customer support staff must be able to answer questions related to privacy concerns. Compliance and legal teams must be able to communicate obligations clearly and effectively. Product managers, designers, and engineers must be able to create products built with privacy in mind. When every relevant stakeholder and department in your organization is equipped to make privacy a focus, the program will thrive.

3. Use privacy programs to fuel innovation.

Your program should simultaneously protect your business and support your larger strategic objectives. Actively foster the mindset that privacy programs fuel and strengthen innovation. They should empower teams to identify and address risks promptly and effectively while doing creative, powerful work. They provide clear, consistent guidelines that enable teams to spend less time worrying and more time creating the most innovative products possible.

If you’re feeling uncertain about the impact of emerging privacy regulations on your business, you’re not alone. Companies in every industry are in the same position and trying to implement more robust privacy practices — and fast.

At TerraTrue, it’s our mission to help organizations implement modern privacy programs built to ensure companies meet existing and emerging compliance demands. To learn more about how we could bolster your own privacy compliance efforts, request a demo today.